SB20-029 (Fields & Moreno/Coleman and Duran) Cost of Living Adjustment for Basic Cash Assistance
This bill would increase Basic Cash Assistance (BCA) in the TANF program to help narrow the gap created by the fact that BCA has not adjusted for cost of living since the program was created in 1996. It would also implement an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) to BCA moving forward so that the value of BCA does not continue to erode in the future.
The Children’s Campaign strongly supports this bill. All Colorado parents want to provide for the basic needs of their children. For families who are experiencing extreme poverty, living below half of the federal poverty line, BCA helps decrease the stress of making ends meet. BCA is particularly important to families because of its flexibility. While many other anti-poverty programs are dedicated to assisting with specific needs (like childcare, health care, housing or food), BCA is one of the few resources that families can use to meet pressing needs like diapers, school supplies, or car repairs.
BCA is not adjusted for inflation and it definitely doesn’t keep up with the cost of living in Colorado. In every county in Colorado, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment exceeds the monthly amount of BCA for a family with one adult and two children. 12.5 percent of families in Colorado receiving BCA are experiencing homelessness.
For young children, experiencing poverty can inhibit early brain development and negatively impact children’s ability to succeed in school and develop social-emotional skills. On the other hand, additional income coming into a family when children are young has long-lasting positive impacts on child outcomes. A $3,000 difference in annual income in the first five years of a child’s life is associated with: the equivalent of 20 points on the SAT, a 17 percent increase in the child’s future earnings, and 135 additional work hours per year as adults. BCA is the most targeted approach Colorado can take to reducing extreme childhood poverty, which has a lifelong impact on child well-being.
Passed out of the Senate Finance Committee unanimously on Feb. 11 and now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee. Katie Creedon, our It’s About Kids Network Manager, testified in support.
January 17, 2020
Assigned to the Senate Finance Committee